“A careful study of all available reliable data indicates that about 95 per cent of school children suffer from dental caries (tooth decay).”
This is taken from the report of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.
The very latest ideas about diet would indicate that a great deal of this decay could be prevented by proper dietary regulation. It used to be thought that children who ate candy were particularly liable to have tooth decay. And this is probably true, although not for the reason that was formerly supposed. The real reason is not that candy or starchy foods themselves cause tooth decay, but that they do not contain the elements necessary for preservation of the teeth. And when a child eats too much candy and starchy foods the appetite is satisfied, and this naturally cuts down the proportion of food containing the necessary elements for tooth preservation.
In various ways the things children eat are stealing from 30 to 50 per cent of the vital elements which are present in natural foods. The substances which teeth need for healthy growth are the minerals, calcium and phosphorus, and the fixing substance, Vitamin D. Vita-min D allows the body to incorporate the minerals into the sub-stance of the teeth. If calcium and phosphorus alone were present the teeth could not utilize them without the presence of Vitamin D.
The protective foods for teeth, briefly, are milk, green vegetables and fruits. A simple way to supplement a diet poor in minerals is to take two level teaspoons of dicalcium phosphate each day. This will furnish about the same amount of calcium and phosphorus as a quart of milk. It is a practically tasteless powder, and can be mixed with mashed potatoes, cereals, buttermilk, orange juice, or water.
Vitamin D is formed from sunshine, and even during the cold winter days that are coming, every child should have as much exposure to daylight as possible. Vitamin D also can be obtained in cod liver oil, viosterol, and other sources.
Dr. E. V. McCollum, of Johns Hopkins, says that he once thought any average diet would contain enough calcium and phosphorus. But he has recently come to doubt this. He points out that we rob many of our foods of phosphorus when they are refined. We peel our potatoes, turnips, carrots and other root vegetables, thus throwing away the parts richest in minerals. For that reason, he thinks there is a real danger that there is a lack of these minerals and Vitamin D in the average American diet. The fact that so many school children show decay of teeth would seem to indicate that this view is reasonable.